Bonobo Review

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Dismayed that her twentysomething daughter (Eleanor Wyld) has quit her law studies to join a new age commune run according to the behaviour patterns of bonobo apes, a widowed mother (Tessa Peake-Jones) makes some surprising discoveries about herself when the leader (Josie Lawrence) invites her to study her methods first-hand.


A drama about a concerned mother seeking to rescue her twentysomething daughter from a commune in the English suburbs should be as dreary and twee as it sounds, especially as leader Josie Lawrence bases her new age theories on the behaviour patterns of bonobo apes. However, Tessa Peake Jones is so dignified as the widowed liberator that this ends up being quietly poignant. The scenes of tactile greeting, mutual feeding and free love-making are somewhat self-conscious and the secondary characterisation is thin. But, for all its flaws, this should be commended as a rare rite-of-passage picture about a middle-aged woman.

An interesting idea with a dignified central performance, Bonobo is let down by supporting characterisation and a self-conscious tone.